Benard Yada, a native of Uganda, was awarded a Borlaug LEAP Fellowship in 2011. In July 2008, Dr. Yada began working as a Sweetpotato Breeder-Geneticist in the Sweetpotato Program at Uganda’s National Crops Resources Research Institute (NaCRRI). He took a study leave to pursue a PhD in Plant Breeding and Genetics at North Carolina State University. His thesis research developed molecular markers for pest and disease resistance in sweetpotato. Dr. Yada believes the future of sweetpotato improvement lies in the robust application of biotechnology and genomic tools.
The fellowship provided Dr. Yada with research support to enhance the development of the sweetpotato genetic linkage map for use in quantitative trait loci (QTL) analysis of sweetpotato virus disease and weevil resistance. During his fellowship, Dr. Yada traveled to Lima, Peru to work with Dr. Wolfgang Grüneberg at th International Potato Center (CIP). The fellowship also allowed Dr. Yada to undergo training in sweetpotato genomics, germplasm conservation and field breeding. At North Carolina State University, Dr. Yada was mentored by Dr. Craig Yencho, a professor in the Horticulture department. In June 2014, Dr. Yada completed his PhD and returned to NaCRRI in Uganda where he currently works as a Plant Breeder-Geneticist for their Root Crops program.